NGOs call China to withdraw Measures on Tibetan Buddhism

By Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon, Phayul, September 15, 2007

New York, USA -- In a statement to the Sixth session of the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, 10 NGOs urged Ms. Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, to endorse their call “that the Chinese authorities immediately withdraw the latest measures on the recognition of reincarnations being imposed on the Tibetan people.”

The statement while referring to a section of the report of the Special Rapporteur informed the Council that the measures being implemented by China “strips all the religious rights and authority of Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual teachers on the future confirmation of reincarnations.”

Ms. Jahangir current report to the UN human rights body had stated that “the freedom of religion or belief also protects the conduct by religious groups of their basic affairs, such as the freedom to choose their religious leaders, priests and teachers.”

This morning a delegate of the China in response to the NGO joint statement claimed that the new measures were “elaborated according to the strong request of the people from the circle of Tibetan Buddhism on the basis of in-depth investigation and studies, extensive search for various view points and full respect paid to the succession modalities of the living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism.”

The NGO statement said: “The new regulations state that henceforth it will be the Chinese authorities alone who can confirm and approve the reincarnations of religious leaders of the Tibetan people. Earlier this year, Tibetans were even told that the Chinese Communist Party is their “living Buddha.” As this year marks the 12 years of the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama; China intensified its defamation campaign against the Dalai Lama.”

The Chinese statement also said that the NGO intervention “was malicious distortion of China’s religious affairs” and “irresponsible accusations.” However, on the fate and whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, the Chinese delegate told the Council that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima “is only a normal Tibetan boy in China. He is now studying in High School and his relatives do not want their normal life to be disturbed. So there is no such an issue of the so-called disappearance.”

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief proclaimed in 1981 says that the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief shall include among others, the freedoms “to train, appoint, elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief.”

A briefing concerning attacks on religious leaders and places of worship in the Philippines, Sri Lank and Tibet Thursday afternoon was organized at the United Nations by a group of NGOs.